Friday, September 12, 2008

Questions, answers, a canned bean recipe, and September 11

For those who are interested, here are the results of the last two polls that were on my blog: (as always, thanks so much to those who answer my polls!):

If an emergency situation were to occur, and we had to rely solely on food storage, the person/people I would worry about not eating what I have stored would be:

No one--we use our food storage all the time, so it wouldn't be a problem 33%
My spouse 11%
My child/children 44%
Older relatives who would depend on me 11%
Younger relatives who would depend on me 11%

On the surface, this might look like an odd question, because you could look at this question, and perhaps think one of the following things (among others):

--If they are hungry, they will eat it, and they should be glad to have it.
--Whoo-hoo, that means more beans/rice/wheat/stored staple for me!
--If they are going to come to me asking to use my supplies, when they haven't stored any of their own, just how rude is it that they turn up their nose at my beans/rice/wheat/stored staple special recipe when I am being nice enough to share?

(As an aside, those who know how to rotate their food storage so well that they use it all the time are at the point that I am striving to get to--you have my sincere admiration. Also, yes, I try to put a little humor into my posts, (hopefully no one would actually be doing the happy dance and shouting "whoo-hoo" in a time of crisis) but sometimes, you have to laugh a little--it helps if you're talking about a hard situation, and hopefully when you're in a hard situation. And to those who are planning to help others with your own supplies, should the need arise, my hat is off to you as well. If you are thinking ahead to plan for needs of those who might need your help, to prevent possible problems for the people you care about, in my opinion, you are ahead of the game. You know what they say about an ounce of prevention. Now, if only I knew if a whole paragraph can be considered an aside... :)

I understand the 3 reactions listed above--especially the thinking that if they are hungry enough, people will eat, and in a situation where food is hard to come by, it would be logical to think that people would be grateful for it. Problem is, people aren't always logical, emergency or no, and stress can create even more problems. You may have noticed that I would worry about my children the most in this case, and I consider my children to be pretty good eaters. There are few things that they don't like, so I consider myself extremely fortunate, having encountered other children who have few things that they do like to eat. My husband will eat mostly anything, and say he would eat it again, so I have very little to worry about in that department. However, I do worry about appetite fatigue. My understanding is that yes, people eventually overcome appetite fatigue when they get hungry enough. So my actual worry is that my children will refuse to eat, weaken their immune systems, and become ill in an emergency situation, even if the "not eating" phase doesn't last very long. This could happen to anyone, (though my understanding is that appetite fatigue is more common among younger and older people) and it would be more ideal that no one go through this particular problem at all. You know who the picky eaters are in your family circle, (whether related by blood or not) and if those of us who are "in charge" of the food storage for our circle take these things into consideration, we might be able to prevent possible problems in a crisis situation through making food storage meals a regular part of our diet, and storing some "comfort foods" for situations that might arise.

The next poll results were as follows:

How did your garden do this summer?

I got about the same amount of produce that I usually do 16%
I got less produce than I usually do 33%
I got more produce than I usually do 33%
It was the first time that I had a garden, and I am pleased with the results 16%

In hindsight, I should have made "I don't have a garden," an option, but hindsight is always 20/20. Congratulations to the first time gardener(s)!

We fell into the "got less" category this year, unfortunately. It was just too cold for too long--I think I may have mentioned in a previous post that it snowed in June, and we were late getting our seeds in. Our pumpkins will probably be our most productive crop, if the weather cooperates. I just like to see what is going on with other people in terms of gardening, so I guess I am not alone in getting less this year. I am happy for those who got better crops.

On the food storage preparation front, I now have prepared a recipe with canned beans. I made this recipe as a side dish this week. Aside from the usual differences in what is considered "too hot," it went pretty well. By which I mean that it was eaten, and will in all likelihood be prepared again, with possible adjustments concerning the chili/cayenne powder. (I of course used powdered and or dried everything so that I was using food storage supplies.) Pros: The preparation time was soooooooooooo much shorter than recipes that are made starting with dry beans, and hence there was less energy expended to make this recipe. Cons: I have read about people saying how making your own beans makes a difference in the quality of the beans. With my limited experience with canned bean recipes, (yeah, this is my first one) I would have to agree that I prefer the beans that I cook myself. I don't know if it's the flavor or texture or both, but I thought the ones I cooked from the dry stage were superior. It's not like I choose hard recipes--the preparation time that I am referring to is the long time it takes to actually let the beans cook all by themselves, rather than any elaborate chopping, slicing, dicing and/or spicing--it's just that I liked the slow-cooked- from- dry beans better. How's that for subjective? :) Anyway, thanks to the writer of the article for an easy and helpful dish--I just thought I would link to it in case anyone else wanted to try it. As always, I would love to hear about recipes involving food storage that work for you.

Yesterday was September 11th. I thought about writing a post, but I didn't know what to say. I saw on one of the channels that they were replaying the actual coverage from 2001--that's what it looked like to me, but I couldn't watch it for very long, because it's too painful for me to watch it again. My children will likely never remember and/ or understand what it was like before that awful day, but I remember. I remember that day. I remember the people who have fought and died to make this country what it is, and I remember those who are fighting for our freedoms now, and the sacrifices their families are making. This is not a political blog, but it is an American one. I appreciate the bounty, and the freedoms that we have here, and I am grateful to be an American. Any preparations we make now will help us and strengthen us should we be attacked in the future.
I liked the picture and the message found on The Barber Bunch website yesterday, with the phrase now associated with 9/11:
Never Forget.


Stephanie in AR said...

You can can your cooked beans. My friend and her elderly neighbor do this quite often. The neighbor can have a meal without a lot of hassle on a 'bad' day. It needs a pressure canner but the end result is like the store kind. Just a thought.

Ron said...

My daughter has a fascination with eating eyes, for whatever reason. She forced me to try eating fish eyes with her. Now, she tells me that she wants to eat a pig's eye. I'm more worried about what I won't eat than what she won't. :)


Nancy said...

I enjoyed your post as usual, Marie.

I agree that slow-cooked-from-dry beans taste better. Besides that, my family doesn't need to ingest the preservatives and excess salt that are usually included with store-bought canned beans.

And storing foods that people like will both improve morale and decrease stress. (Which is also a good reason to include treats.)

Anyway, you asked for recipes involving food storage. This one works for my family.

Knowing that I might not always have a lot of fuel, water, or time for cooking, I've been increasing the percentage of quick-cooking foods in our storage. Pre-cooking and drying beans puts them in that category.

Taco Bean And Rice Soup

1/2 cup instant rice
3 cups water (add water until desired consistency)
2 cups cooked, dried beans
1 pkg. taco seasoning*

Stir ingredients together in a saucepan.
Bring to a boil and cook for at least 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

How to make cooked, dried beans:

Cook the dried beans as usual. For quick rehydration, I prefer to cook them to a lumpy mush. Spread the cooked beans on plastic wrap or special drying sheets in a dehydrator, or on a jelly roll pan (or other pan with sides) to dry in the oven, then dry as usual. If desired, you can add spices to the beans during cooking, or stir in just before drying. (I prefer to leave the beans unspiced to increase the number of dishes I can use them in.)

The whole process takes several days, but there's very little "face time" involved. I soak the beans overnight, cook them all day in a crock pot, cool them a little, then spread on trays in the dehydrator and dry.

*Use a package from the grocery store or make your own. I highly recommend "Make-a-Mix Cookery: How to Make Your Own Mixes," by Karine Eliason, Nevada Harward, Madeline Westover, and Geoge De Gennaro for recipes and ideas on making your own mixes.

Marie said...

Stephanie--This sounds like a great idea--it hadn't occurred to me to store them in that way, and it would certainly save a lot of time if you did it in bulk. Learning how to can is something that needs to move up on my to-do list--I helped when I was a kid, but have never done it on my own. Thanks for your comment!

Ron--Thanks for your comment.From what I've read, I don't think anything fazes your daughter, and I think that gives her an advantage when it comes to a lot of things, including eating unfamiliar food if necessary. So it's all good in terms of bravery, but I don't know about the taste... :) I appreciate your comment!

Nancy--I had never heard of this method, but it sounds like a great idea. Since I have started cooking with dry beans, the energy and water aspects of cooking the beans has been a concern to me, because as you mentioned, there might not always be a lot of either available.
Then there is the cost difference between the dry beans and the canned beans--around here about $.88/bag vs. $.58/can, but of course their energy costs to prepare it are figured in. So dried would definitely be the more cost-effective storage method.
Thanks for the recipe as well--taco seasoning is a favorite around here, so it looks like that would be a hit at our house! It seems like I have heard about the "Make-a-Mix Cookery" book, but I haven't thought about it in a long time--something I should probably look into. :) Thanks for all the great info!